“People love Jacinda” and headline hacks

Praise piled on think for Jacinda Ardern:

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do.

I can see what National was trying to do – get Ardern’s equal, Kaye, to lead the attack.

It is all routine attack politics but it may well be failing. It has let Ardern grab the moral high ground which fits with her brand of a “new style of politics”.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

You might think that can from The Standard or Chris Trotter or Martyn Bradbury, or from Labour Party PR, but no, it is from an ‘opinion’ piece of journalist Patrick Gower.

Major media (not just Gower) seem to be trying to talk Ardern up into some sort of phenomenon.

Is Arderrn an equal of Nikki Kaye? Kaye has beaten Ardern twice in what had been a safe Labour seat, Auckland Central.

The above quotes are cherry picked but there is more context, trying to portray National as panicked in fear of the threat of Ardern – something that has been claimed at The Standard  see Nats’ attack on Ardern backfires.

The way National has revved up its attack machine to take on Jacinda Ardern shows just how worried they are.

But what should be more worrying for National is that the attacks are backfiring and may be empowering Brand Ardern rather than weakening it.

First, Nikki Kaye had a go in Parliament saying Ardern was all show and no substance.

Then Paula Bennett tried to double-team Ardern on the AM Show this morning by saying she was “condescending” in her response to Kaye’s condescending attacks – which only served to make Bennett look condescending.

It is all a tactic of course. It shows us National is worried about Jacinda. And it makes them look more than a little desperate.

I’ve been around Parliament for a while and the “attack” by Kaye on Ardern wasn’t really up to much in my view – Labour called John Key out in a similar way for years for being all photo ops and no substance.

But it was the way Ardern’s supporters leapt to her defence which shows she potentially has that untouchable aura that National should recognise all too well – because John Key had the very same thing.

People love Jacinda. National can’t understand it, but they do. People loved John Key. Labour couldn’t understand it – but they did.

For years Labour and the left attacked John Key and it only made him stronger.

Now National faces the danger that its attacks on Ardern will only make her stronger.

It may just be that Brand Jacinda is the same as Brand Key – no wonder National is so panicked.

One thing about them is the same – their first names begin with ‘J’.

We will discover in the coming weeks and months just how popular Ardern is and how powerful Brand Jacinda can become.

Is Ardern really as big a threat to National as John Key was to Labour?

Key was elected at his first attempt (to a safe Helensville seat) in 2002. Four years later he became Leader of the Opposition, and in another two years in 2008 election he led National to victory.

Ardern lost her first election (in Waikato) in 2008, then lost two elections to Kaye in 2011 and 2014 but got in each time on Labour’s list. After eight years in Parliament she was appointed Labour’s deputy leader.

Do National fear the rise of Ardern? I’m sure they are wary of what effect she may have in this year’s election.

It’s not unusual for parties to criticise opponents, often far more than Kaye and Bennett have done this week.

Bennett herself has often been attacked and criticised, in part because she has been suggested as a possible future leader and Prime Minister.

Judith Collins has also been hammered by Labour – Phil Goff travelled to China to try to find dirt to use against her, and she started defamation proceedings against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little in 2012 – see Judith Collins defamation case settled.

Collins had been seen as a prospective leader for National.

So the reaction against National by some political opponents, saying a bit of criticism in Parliament is unfair and panicky, should be viewed with a bit of ‘same old politics’ in a relatively mild way.

But why are journalists like Gower supporting the ‘poor Jacinda, Jacinda is great!’ meme?

It may be panic on their part – panic that Bill English and Andrew Little will be too boring for them, another meme some of the media keep pushing.

Perhaps that’s why they have chosen to promote Ardern – not so much as a politician but as a celebrity.

New Zealand politics is served poorly by headline hacks who confuse journalism with political activism.

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47 Comments

  1. pdm

     /  March 18, 2017

    From what I saw of Question Time on Tuesday and Wednesday Ardern looked quite uncomfortable and disinterested squatted next to Angry Andy. Even during his tirade in the General Debate Wednesday.

    • Pete Kane

       /  March 18, 2017

      Anonymous troll junk – contributes nothing. But Election Year. (And you Guys know my assessment of Jacinda.)

  2. PDB

     /  March 18, 2017

    One thing is for sure – National mentioning Jacinda in any way and giving her media oxygen is a bad strategy. Ignoring her and focusing on Little’s many failings is the way to go, especially considering that Jacinda isn’t going to be PM come Sept.

  3. Ray

     /  March 18, 2017

    What is notable is that no one has been able to show that Miss Adern is not just a show pony with a tendency to appear on the front page of glossy magazines.
    We are told she is a policy wonk.
    So where are the policies with her imprint on them?
    People love her, but didn’t vote her into Auckland Central.
    And so it goes, a media beat up which I feel could again end badly for the Left.
    After all it was at the last election that a media person said “No matter what we say or do the polls won’t change”
    Slow learners eh!

    • duperez

       /  March 18, 2017

      Not being voted for is not necessarily a sign of failure or of not being thought to be absolutely brilliant by some. Witness one of the highest ranked Ministers in recent years.

      • Losing twice in what had previously been a safe Labour electorate isn’t great on her CV though.

        The simple fact is that Kaye has been more popular than her in Auckland Central.

        • Blazer

           /  March 18, 2017

          thats yesterdays news,no one cares.Adern is now the Member for Mt Albert.She has potential,and the govt spin doctors …know it.

          • PDB

             /  March 18, 2017

            Compared to Andrew Little ANYBODY would look like having potential…….

          • Corky

             /  March 18, 2017

            She does have potential…as a political punching bag. All those people coming to Cindy’s aid don’t realise they are helping National. Now that Nikki has explained herself, voters will be wondering what the problem is with Cindy…and why she can’t fight back…or why people need to give her social media support. But you support-a -way, Blazer. I’m rooting for you, son.

        • duperez

           /  March 18, 2017

          Is being a two time loser meaningful for just that or that it was in what had “previously been a safe Labour electorate”?

          Political science boffins might talk abut the electorate undergoing significant demographic changes. How has that affected the traditional voting pattern? How different is it now than when Norman Douglas, won five elections, Richard Prebble five and Judith Tizard four? A traditional Labour seat certainly but even Tizard lost in the end. The tide had turned.

          Losing is losing but while Labour was thrashed by more than 6000 in the electorate party vote in two elections for Auckland Central, Ardern was twice within 718 of winning.
          The experts might proffer that the elections were in times when the electorate merely reflected the national picture. According to that Ardern did quite well.

          Someone who has considerably more losses on her CV who has not had her progress inhibited will be defended on the grounds that she stood in a “safe Labour seat.”

          If the demographics of the seat are irrelevant for Ardern, coming second is second and condemnation follows, let that be the lot of Hekia Parata too. Five losses on her CV are irrelevant except to her ego.

          • “Losing is losing but while Labour was thrashed by more than 6000 in the electorate party vote in two elections for Auckland Central, Ardern was twice within 718 of winning.”

            You should factor in the Green tactical voting.

            • duperez

               /  March 18, 2017

              In the results book, in the CV, it says won or lost. Do the machinations matter? I mention some angles you mention one. She lost twice and is rubbished for that.
              She is rubbished (I assume) for not having the personal popularity or ability to woo people. She did not lose a safe labour seat.

              Journalists like Gower are building her up because it’s their job. Sometimes before you can report on controversies, trends or personalities you have to create them.

            • “Journalists like Gower are building her up because it’s their job. ”

              T may well be their job, but if the media took their democratic responsibilities seriously then they shouldn’t be trying to pick political winners and losers

      • And that’s despite significant assistance for Ardern from the Greens.

      • PDB

         /  March 18, 2017

        Failing to win Auckland central twice IS a major falling as that should be the perfect demographic that Ardern supposedly represents and attracts.

        • Blazer

           /  March 18, 2017

          its totally irrelevant.

        • duperez

           /  March 18, 2017

          Tell us about the demographics in that electorate. Tell us how it is perfect the demographic that Ardern supposedly represents and attracts. Tell us how it is not the perfect demographic that Nikki Kaye represents and attracts. Please.

    • Blazer

       /  March 18, 2017

      so given that,why doesn’t the Govt just ignore her?They percieve her as a threat thats why.Nationals spin doctors always go for attack politics ,they attempt to imprint their framing on voters…’Angry’ Andy an example.Trying to portray Ardern as ineffectual and a show pony is predictable and typical.Politicians have to sold as individuals.Key was a great performer,winning smile and friendly demeanour masking his ‘assassin’ persona.English is hard work,appears to have had a charisma bypass and is far too dry.

      • PDB

         /  March 18, 2017

        Just a media beat-up. The comments were not ‘personal’ and were only made in the house by Kaye who has considerable personal experience in dealing with Ardern. I’ve yet to see anybody come out and successfully defend Ardern’s parliamentary record (even Ardern herself couldn’t) which suggests Kaye was bang on the money.

        However Ardern’s poor record and failings are obvious to the public and don’t need confirming by National MP’s in such a way – there is no ‘win’ from National in doing so.

        • Blazer

           /  March 18, 2017

          not a beat up,a contrived and common tactic National employ.Whats Bennets record like,Nick Smiths….and so on.Hopeless.

          • PDB

             /  March 18, 2017

            Deflection – what has Ardern (not Smith, Bennett) done/ achieved in all her years in parliament that would prove Kaye’s comments to be incorrect?

            • Blazer

               /  March 18, 2017

              pssst….knucklehead….Adern is in OPPOSITION!

            • PDB

               /  March 18, 2017

              Doesn’t seem to have stopped other people in opposition achieving things, the most recent being the domestic violence bill……….you must be getting dizzy from all your spin.

            • h0tT1e27

               /  March 18, 2017

              Blazer

              Rather than result to your usual ad-homs, which are at playground level, please detail what Jacinda has done in parliament, when compared to Louisa Wall, Sue Bradford or Julie Anne Genter?

            • Louisa Wall can’t have done much (apart from her work on marriage equality) – she is ranked third last amongst Labour MPs, only above the invisible and retiring Clayton Cosgrove and the newbie Michael Wood, and below the even closer to retirement David Cunliffe and the recently outspoken Poto Williams.

            • Pete Kane

               /  March 18, 2017

              I think Wood has a bit more to offer than Wall ‘and Co’ Pete.

            • Probably but early days for him. What about Wall compared to King, Dyson and Mallard who are all ranked above her?

            • chrism56

               /  March 18, 2017

              Pete
              You have answered my query. Louisa has her name associated with legislation while even as you say at bottom of rankings. Rankings don’t really rate effectiveness. They are more often than not used by leaders to reward loyalists and punish splitters. And they don’t indicate the future. Where was John Key when he took over from Don Brash?

            • Key was 7 on the National list in 2005.

              Brash promoted him to 4 in his reshuffle in October 2005.

              “Dr Brash says Mr Key has been rewarded for a sound election campaign that saw him outclass Finance Minister Michael Cullen in selling National’s message and exposing the Labour Government’s faults.”

              http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0510/S00154.htm

            • Pete Kane

               /  March 18, 2017

              South Auckland vs different communities Pete. Dyson – Port Hills for ex. although a mile past use by imo.

            • PDB

               /  March 18, 2017

              A reminder from that Brash comment above that Key on his way to being leader of the National party won a series of economic debates against the politically formidable Cullen, can you imagine Jacinda doing the same? The ‘shucks, gee-whizz, I’m just a girl from Morrinsville’ routine can only take you so far.

            • Blazer

               /  March 18, 2017

              hey hotie National supporters are the masters of childish insults and puerile slogans,’Labour it too’,the most common.Tell me what cabinet minister Parata has achieved in her long tenure.Remembering she is in govt and therefore able to get things …done.

            • Blazer

               /  March 18, 2017

              the Brash quote is selective ,partisan nonsense…’that saw him outclass Finance Minister Michael Cullen in selling National’s message and exposing the Labour Government’s faults.”……show me where Key outclassed Cullen,Clark he stumped,not Cullen.Cullen was smarter than the whole Natz caucus.

            • PDB

               /  March 18, 2017

              NZ Herald: “Where the shrunken caucus of 2002 had given Key an opportunity to take on more responsibility than normally expected of a new MP, the role of finance spokesman presented a much bigger – and far riskier – chance to shine.
              The stakes were high. He was pitted against the veteran Michael Cullen and there was a lot to gain from performing well but a lot to lose too.
              Cullen’s ability to outsmart and tear opponents apart remains legendary, and among the senior members of National’s caucus there was some concern about throwing Key to the wolves.
              Brash and his closest advisers debated how much responsibility to give Key and there was some trepidation Cullen might make mincemeat of him. They spoke of a need to “protect” Key. They need not have worried – perhaps they forgot that risk, and high stakes were not new to Key. He had spent years in pressure situations and thrived on them.
              Key took the high-profile tax cut package he helped design and challenged Cullen in the 2005 election campaign in a way previous National spokesmen hadn’t.
              He refused to be intimidated and was credited with matching Cullen in the campaign debates. Key’s success may have been partly a consequence of Labour choosing to target Brash, and turning its big guns in his direction in a fierce bid to discredit the former Reserve Bank Governor.
              Whatever the reason, once again Key had backed himself and taken on something that should have been beyond him.”

              So the ‘neutral’ version is that Key ‘matched’ Cullen, that was being generous as Key definitely upstaged Cullen.

          • Blazer

             /  March 18, 2017

            Just keep talking about Ardern,its a big help to Labours profile.With Ministers like Parata,Smith,Barger Brownlee and co….National win the battle of seat warmers hands down.

            • Is talking about Ardern good for Labour’s election profile? Will she alternate with Little in leader’s debates? She could be a boost for Labour in some ways, but she could just as easily be a distraction.

            • PDB

               /  March 18, 2017

              I see Hooten is suggesting internal polling suggests Labour will see a rise in its polling due to Ardern’s promotion but only to the detriment of the Green vote, not by taking votes off the centre-right. Will be interesting to see what happens.

            • That doesn’t surprise me. The big fights for vote share are likely to be Labour v Greens, Labour v Maori Party, and National v NZ First (there could also be some Labour v NZ First).

            • PDB

               /  March 18, 2017

              PG: “there could also be some Labour v NZ First”

              Labour need to show they have a chance of governing prior to the election or else many of its supporters will jump to NZL First in order to be on the winning side and their vote could collapse.

            • Blazer.

               /  March 19, 2017

              Brash on …Key…

              ‘Former National party leader Don Brash says John Key has enjoyed being Prime Minister and ego-boosting meetings with world leaders but he has been guilty of tinkering rather than making major changes.

              He says Mr Key has not dealt well with crunchy issues of narrowing the wage gap with Australia, superannuation and housing.

              Mr Brash gave him a five out of 10 for his time as Prime Minister, saying he had not done anything that Helen Clark would not have done.’

    • Pete Kane

       /  March 18, 2017

      Fair criticism.

      • Pete Kane

         /  March 18, 2017

        Sorry, meaning fair criticism re Ray’s policy comments..

  4. Anthony Robins is trying to fan the flames of ‘bad National, poor Jacinda’:
    https://thestandard.org.nz/nats-attack-on-ardern-day-3/

    • Pete Kane

       /  March 18, 2017

      I know, and that just annoys middle PDK males (even Kelburn ones).

  5. Strong For Life

     /  March 18, 2017

    Ms Kaye made a tactical blunder by attacking media heart-throb Jacinda Ardern. While what Ms Kaye said was correct it must be remembered that Ms Ardern was promoted because of media pressure. Ms Ardern is seen as the savour of the Labour Party and a future PM by left-leaning media. She is beyond reproach in their eyes and naturally they will defend her honour. Because of the media beat-up over Ms Kaye’s remarks Ms Ardern popularity is sure to rise. I think National should keep quiet and let Ms Ardern reveal her inadequacies while campaigning beside Angry Andrew Little.